Red Deer City council decided not to change the 15% concentration of secondary suites allowable in a given neighbourhood during its meeting on Monday.
As well, council was presented with revised wording in the Land Use Bylaw’s Location Criteria to clarify when a suite would be deemed appropriate when a permit application is made. First reading for the Land Use Bylaw amendment would come before council in March.
Changes to the Location Criteria cover three areas which include design and accessibility, suite concentration and availability of on-street parking.
On design and accessibility, suites must meet one of three criteria – be located on a street with more than one entrance or exit; have access from a lane or be located on a corner site.
Regarding concentration, the development authority would consider the number of other suites in the area within 100 metres, a block, a street or within a row of housing.
Also added to the Location Criteria, consideration of adjacent residential development without front attached garages and driveways, which increases the availability of on-street parking.
In July, Councillor Lawrence Lee raised the issue of secondary suites through a Notice of Motion, calling for a reduction in the number of suites allowed in a neighbourhood, from 15% to 10% of the number of single detached homes.
He also proposed keeping the concentration of suites on a street to 10%, citing concerns he received from residents regarding traffic, parking and access.
Lee said he was satisfied with administration’s recommendation not to change the allowable percentage.
“The original intention of decreasing the percentage was to do what administration has accomplished through the Land Use Bylaw,” Lee said.
He added the extra clarity in the Land Use Bylaw would make the evaluation process for permitting more efficient.
Mayor Tara Veer said the the existing criteria for approving secondary suites was not “refined enough,” which made it hard finding a consistent way to approve and deny applications. This created uncertainty for people purchasing property, she said.
She added the changes will help the Municipal Planning Commission make its decisions.
In a presentation to council, it was shown that out of 61 neighbourhoods in Red Deer, nine have a proportion of secondary suites greater than 10%. Only two have concentrations greater than 15% — South Hill and West Park (east). Council heard this was because single detached homes had been torn down in mature neighbourhoods, replaced by multi-family dwellings. No further suites would be approved in those areas until their percentages decrease below 15%.